Largest fine in Eagle County history lapses into a courtroom conundrum
EAGLE — A plea bargain struck in response to an assault charge issued this past winter included a $75,000 fine, the largest fine in Eagle County history, but now the District Attorney’s office wants to rescind that offer.
Paris Aguilera Baeza had offered to plead guilty to second-degree assault, stemming from an altercation with Jason Blick last winter in the hallway of The Sebastian hotel in Vail. As part of the plea deal, Aguilera Baeza agreed to pay a $75,000 fine, the largest ever levied in Eagle County history.
Because Aguilera Baeza lives in Mexico, it would be impractical for him to serve probation, and the huge fine was a way to offset that, prosecutors said.
Jim Fahrenholtz, local attorney for Aguilera Baeza, said he and his client waived their right to a speedy trial based on that offer, and therefore, the DA’s office cannot legally rescind it.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan said if Aguilera Baeza was going to accept the deal, then he needed to deposit the money by Monday.
However, District Court Judge Russell Granger said a June 7 letter from prosecutors indicated the deal is off, and there was no offer for Fahrenholtz and Aguilera Baeza to accept.
Fahrenholtz said that to raise that kind of money, Aguilera Baeza would have to sell his house in Miami “at a fire sale price.” Aguilera Baeza was also willing to deposit another $20,000 Monday as a good faith measure, Fahrenholtz said.
Meanwhile, Blick, the man who said he was assaulted by Aguilera Baeza, has not replied to prosecutors’ attempts to contact him over the past few weeks, according to testimony during a District Court hearing Monday morning. Blick is a British citizen living in the Cayman Islands, at last report.
They’re all back in court in early October to try to sort everything out.
What police say happened
The altercation started around 11 p.m. on a January weekend night, when Vail police responded to a report of a man knocked unconscious during a fight at Vail’s Sebastian hotel.
Blick’s girlfriend, who was staying with him at The Sebastian, told police she heard a woman screaming in the hallway. She asked Blick to help the woman, and after he left the room, she closed the hotel room door, according to the police report.
She said she looked through her door’s peephole and saw Aguilera Baeza and a woman pass the room. She said she opened the door, looked out in the opposite direction and saw Blick lying on the floor, according to the report.
Police were told that Blick tackled Aguilera Baeza. Somehow, Aguilera Baeza wrapped Blick in a martial arts hold called a “rear naked choke hold,” where the aggressor’s forearm is wrapped around the victim’s trachea.
Police arrived moments later and found Aguilera Baeza in a hotel room, lying under the covers in one of two children’s beds.
Aguilera Baeza originally faced attempted murder charges. He is free on $500,000 bond.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.